India is changing

India is changing

Published on : January 26, 2019

Every January and August, we become more aware of our Indian-ness. Online and offline conversations burst with expressions of pride, devotion and love for the country, peppered with anguish, concern and despair with the state of the nation.

How much of that despair is rooted in reason? And how much of the devotion translates into action? What can all of us, as citizens, do to make India better? How well do we know the state of our nation?

India is changing. Do we know how and how much? We ran a very brief and quick quiz to check.

Before you proceed with this article, take the quiz here (Spoiler alert : The rest of this article may reveal some answers, so take the quiz first!)

Here is what we found with the first 300 responses – mostly collected from the urban, well-educated and well-read crowd, a majority of which works in corporate sector.

  1. Life expectancy : A good majority (79%) got current Indian life expectancy right. About 7% were overly optimistic, and a good 14% thought we were much worse than reality.
  2. Urbanisation : Again, a majority (80%) answered correctly on percentage of our total population today that lives in rural areas. About 5% thought we were still 90% rural, and 15% thought only about 30%-40% of the population was in rural areas.

That’s where majority of correct answers ends! On the remaining questions, here is how we as a society just don’t know our own progress :

  1. Number of registered companies in India : Less than half (45%) the respondents got this range of number right. 43% went with a range that is 1/10th of the actual number, and 12% picked a range that’s 1/20th of the right answer.
  2. Forest cover in India over the last decade : Only 24% of the respondents knew that it has actually improved (data here), rest 76% think that it has decreased.
  3. Annual per capita income : Here is how we STILL think of ourselves as a poor country unfortunately – Only 15% got this answer right. 35% thought it is HALF of what it actually is. And a whopping majority of 50% thought that it is only a QUARTER of what it is in reality today.

The general perception of our income level was an eye-opener for us. While it is understandable that most of us do not really need this socio-economic data for our day-to-day functioning, but doesn’t this impression also shape how we think of ourselves as a country? Does it not affect our confidence as a society? For example, did you know that we have been taking in lesser and lesser of foreign aid :

We have actually been giving more in aid :

And receiving more foreign capital than ever marking us as an attractive investment destination :

True, the picture is not all rosy. India is vast, diverse and complex. We are leap-frogging into development with digital transformation and educated aspiring middle class. But we have massive societal challenges to address. Widespread malnutrition, serious urban pollution, inequalities, massive employment opportunity challenges, skewed gender ratio in every sphere, slow-moving judicial system and many such systemic issues need our urgent attention and action. But unless we know where the problems are and their magnitude, how do we begin to tackle them?

We decided to address this problem by making data accessible and understandable to everyone. Today, under Government’s open data policy and initiative, tons of useful data is available in public domain. But not every organisation and individual is equipped with relevant data analysis skills to work with lakhs of data-sets available to make sense out of them.

Data is the new oil. But just like crude oil, raw data is of limited use. It needs to be processed, refined and curated for it become useful fuel to power action.

Through our new initiative called ‘India Data Insights’ launched on 1st January 2019, we aim to make actionable data insights available to everyone in the form of ready-to-use charts and interactive dashboards.

The United Nations 2030 agenda consisting of 17 Sustainable Development Goals provides a uniform framework for tracking development across the globe. We follow the same for India on www.IndiaDataInsights.com. Alongside development indicators under each SDG, we plan to make available data on funding – through Govt spending, CSR and foundations, impact investments and philanthropic capital – for each of the causes.

Data is powerful. Let’s harness the power of data to make sharper decisions and achieve better impact. On Republic Day, let’s resolve to look at facts and act fast for better India!

(We publish interesting data insights every day, Follow us : LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook)

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